STILL WATER – Brendon Evers wants to take NFL scouts back in time.
The Oklahoma State defensive tackle intends to show them he's the 2021 version of himself, not the 2022 version when he appears at the OSU Pro Day on Wednesday.
Evers, a Bixby native, plans to make every event the scouts want to see from him in a combine, with just one possible exception. As of Monday, Evers was still unsure if he would attempt the bench press.
Four months removed from the shoulder surgery that ended his super-senior season after just five games, the 6-foot, 295-pound Evers wants to make sure scouts see the qualities that helped him have a standout 2021 season.
He finished with 21 tackles, including six for loss and three sacks, anchoring the middle of a defensive line that was among the best in the country.
“I'm ready to show them I'm still the guy from 2021,” Evers said The Oklahoman. “I want to show them that I'm still at that top level, show them that I can play in this league and showcase what I have to offer. I think a lot of teams will take note.”
Evers will be among a group of about a dozen players appearing for scouts at Pro Day. That will include defensive end Tyler Lacy and safety Jason Taylor II, both of whom were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine a month ago in Indianapolis.
Guys like Evers and Brock Martin didn't get that opportunity to showcase their skills, so this is their best chance to catch the attention of an NFL team.
Evers played through several injuries during his time at OSUbut when his shoulder problem flared up last October, he faced the reality that he had played his last game as a Cowboy.
“It's the hardest decision I've ever made,” he said. “A lot of reflection, a lot of questioning of opinions from people inside and outside that facility. But in the end I had to make the decision to put myself in the position I am now. I had to make the right decision, and I think I did.”
While numbers like 40-yard dash times and other measurables seem to draw the most attention at Pro Day, Evers is excited about the position drills.
“I think all the position drills will show me as a player, show how fluid I will be, how I can be used in different situations, depending on which team needs me,” he said. “I think it will be an eye opener.”
Xavier Benson discusses struggles
Linebacker Xavier Benson know he didn't have an ideal season in 2022. He didn't need a stat to tell him that. He didn't need video replays to see it.
He felt it in his mind and in his body.
Listed at 224 pounds, Benson had dropped to 207 by the end of the season, and he attributed that to stress when he spoke to the media Monday for the first time since arriving at OSU in January 2022.
A transfer from Tyler (Texas) Community College, Benson is now a redshirt senior. He's bulked back up to 230 — “Solid,” he said with a smile — and he feels his head is in a better place.
“I've been through a lot,” Benson said. “I've been around the circle and I know what's important at the end of the day, and that's people. I'm just thankful that the hard time passed, and it's a new era, new energy, new faces. It feels good .”
Benson is excited about a couple of new faces around him at linebacker as well.
With the switch to Bryan Nardo's 3-3-5 scheme, the Cowboys add a linebacker to the formation. Collin Oliver transferred from defensive end, and Justin Wright transferred from Tulsa to fill the void left by Mason Cobb.
And Nardo has had a strong influence on the group.
“A dominant male figure that we need,” Benson said. “A leader who will take ownership of his mistakes and actions and present it to us, and also wants the best from us. And effort. That's all he cares about.”
Elijah Collins wins over teammates
With an established trio of running backs already in the building, Michigan State transfer Elijah Collins could have taken a stand when he came to OSU.
He's older, more experienced and more proven than any of the running backs on the roster — Ollie Gordon, Jaden Nixon and Deondre Jackson.
And the 6-foot, 225-pound Collins had a respectable amount of success in the Big Ten, where defenses are tough.
“He's really coming in and studying and learning,” said Nixon, the longest-tenured Cowboy running back, entering his second redshirt season. “He's always up there in the office, like, ‘Hey, let's go watch film.' Even when we have yoga, he's there. He really wants to be a part of the team.
“It's not like he showed up and he said, ‘Oh, I'm that guy.' He came in, he's learning and he's just a really cool guy to be around. I love him already.”
Aside from football, Nixon has enjoyed getting to know Collins personally with his background growing up in Detroit. Nixon is from Frisco, Texas.
“It's a big difference,” Nixon said. “Really, it's just about learning to communicate and grow and work together.”
This article was originally published on The Oklahoman: NFL Draft: OSU's Brendon Evers out to prove he's still ‘top tier kid'
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